Idaho stop

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A red light... treated like a stop sign.
A stop sign... treated like a yield sign.

The Idaho stop is the common name for a law that allows cyclists to treat a stop sign as a yield sign, and a red light as a stop sign. It first became law in Idaho in 1982, but was not adopted elsewhere until Delaware adopted a limited stop-as-yield law in 2017.[1] "Stop as Yield", a version that deals only with stop signs, has also expanded to parts of Colorado and been considered in several other states. Advocates argue that current law criminalizes normal cycling behavior, and that the Idaho stop makes cycling easier and safer and places the focus where it should be: on yielding the right-of-way.[2]


The original Idaho yield law was introduced as Idaho HB 541 during a comprehensive revision of Idaho Traffic laws in 1982. At that time, minor traffic offenses were criminal offenses and there was a desire to downgrade many of these to "civil public offenses" to free up docket time.

Carl Bianchi, then the Administrative Director of the Courts in Idaho, saw an opportunity to attach a modernization of the bicycle law onto the larger revision of the traffic code. He drafted a new bicycle code that would more closely conform with the Uniform Vehicle Code, and included new provisions allowing cyclists to take the lane, or to merge left, when appropriate. Addressing the concerns of the state's magistrates, who were concerned that "technical violations" of traffic control device laws by cyclists were cluttering the court, the draft also contained a provision that allowed cyclists to treat a stop sign as a yield sign—the so-called “rolling stop law.” The new bicycle law passed in 1982, despite objections among some cyclists and law enforcement officers.

In 2006, the law was modified to specify that cyclists must stop on red lights and yield before proceeding straight through the intersection, and before turning left at an intersection. This had been the original intent, but Idaho law enforcement officials wanted it specified.[3] The law originally passed with an education provision, but that was removed in 1988 because "youthful riders quickly adapted to the new system and had more respect for a law that legalized actual riding behavior."[4]

In 2001, Joel Fajans, a physics professor at the University of California at Berkeley, and Melanie Curry, a magazine editor, published an essay entitled "Why Bicyclists Hate Stop Signs" on why rolling stops were better for cyclists and it provided greater interest in the Idaho law.[5]

The first effort to enact the law outside of Idaho was started in Oregon in 2003, when the Idaho law still only applied to stop signs.[6] While it overwhelmingly passed in the House, it never made it out of the Senate Rules Committee.[7] The Oregon effort in turn inspired an investigation of the law by the San Francisco Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission in 2008.[8] That investigation failed to spawn legislation, but it did garner national attention, which led to similar efforts nationwide.

The term "Idaho Stop" came into use as a result of the California effort in 2008. Prior to that, it was called "Idaho Style" or "Roll-and-go." "Idaho Stop" was first used by the bicycle blogger Richard Masoner in June 2008 coverage of the San Francisco proposal, but in reference to the "Idaho Stop Law."[9] In August of the same year, the term - now in quotes - first showed up in print in a Christian Science Monitor article by Ben Arnoldy who referred to the "so-called 'Idaho stop' rule."[10] Soon after, the term "Idaho stop" was commonly being used as a noun, not a modifier.


Advocates for Idaho stop laws argue that they improve safety. Two studies of the Idaho stop show that it is measurably safer. One study showed that it resulted in 14% fewer crashes and another indicated that Idaho has less severe crashes.[11][12] Similarly, tests of a modified form of the Idaho Stop in Paris "found that allowing the cyclists to move more freely cut down the chances of collisions with cars, including accidents involving the car's blind spot."[13] And, less definitively, a study of rolling stops in Seattle determined that "these results support the theoretical assertion that bicyclists are capable of making safe decisions regarding rolling stop,"[14] while a 2013 survey of stop as yield in Colorado localities where it is legal reported no increase in crashes.[15] Another study done in Chicago showed that compliance with stop signs and stop lights by cyclists was low when cross-traffic was not present, but that most were still performing an Idaho Stop; and therefore "enforcing existing rules at these intersections would seem arbitrary and capacious(sic)."[16] Some supporters maintain that changing the legal duties of cyclists provides direction to law enforcement to focus attention where it belongs—on unsafe cyclists (and motorists).[17] Additionally, some claim that, because bicycle laws should be designed to allow cyclists to travel swiftly and easily, the Idaho stop provision allows for the conservation of energy.[18]

Opponents of the law maintain that a uniform, unambiguous set of laws that apply to all road users is easier for children to understand[19] and allowing cyclists to behave by a separate set of rules than drivers makes them less predictable and thus, less safe.[19] Jack Gillette, former president of the Boise Bicycle Commuters Association, argued that bicyclists should not have greater freedoms than drivers. “Bicyclists want the same rights as drivers, and maybe they should have the same duties,” he said.[20] San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee argued that the law "directly endangers pedestrians and cyclists" in his veto of a similar law in his city.[21]

Examples and legislative history[edit]

Idaho is both the largest and longest practitioner of the stop-as-yield, and the only practitioner of the red-as-stop. Mark McNeese, Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator for the Idaho Transportation Department says that "Idaho bicycle-collision statistics confirm that the Idaho law has resulted in no discernible increase in injuries or fatalities to bicyclists."

In 2012, a decree in Paris allowed cyclists in that city to turn right or, if there is no street to the right, proceed straight ahead on red, under the condition that they “exercise caution” and yield to pedestrians, after road safety experts deemed the measure would reduce collisions.[22] During the summer of 2015, Paris law was modified to allow cyclists to treat certain stop lights as yield signs as allowed by signage. The change only applied to right turns or going straight at a T-junction.[23]

In parts of Colorado, the stop-as-yield law is in place. In 2011, the cities of Dillon and Breckenridge, Colorado, passed stop-as-yield laws,[24] in 2012 Summit County passed a similar law for its unincorporated areas,[25] and in 2014, the City of Aspen passed one as well.[26] Fort Collins considered the same law in 2013, but declined.[27]

In 2017, Delaware became the second state to pass an Idaho Stop law, though it doesn't go as far as Idaho's. The Delaware law makes stop-as-yield legal, but it only applies on roads with two travel lanes. Some have called it the "Delaware Stop".[28]

Many states have laws allowing cyclists (and motorcyclists) to stop at and then proceed through a red light if the light doesn't change due to the inability of the embedded sensors in the ground to detect them. Such laws often require that the cyclist stop, confirm that there is no oncoming traffic, and proceed after waiting a certain amount of time or cycles of the light. These are known as "Dead Red" laws.[29]

Lawmakers in many states, provinces and cities have attempted to pass laws similar to Idaho's.

  • In 2003, HB 2768, which would have allowed cyclists to treat stop signs and flashing red signals as yield signs, passed in the Oregon House by a vote of 46-9, but it never made it out of a Senate Rules Committee. The bill had the support of several bicycle coalitions, but opposition came from local law enforcement and the Department of Transportation.[8]
  • In 2008, San Francisco's Metropolitan Transportation Commission's bicycle advisory committee held a hearing on a "stop as yield" proposal with the possibility of recommending that the MTC staff further investigate the idea and bring it before the agency's governing board, so that they could propose state legislation to change the California vehicle code.[30]
  • Minnesota legislators introduced a bill similar to Idaho's in 2008, but it never made it out of committee.[31] The same bill was introduced in 2009 and met the same fate.[32]
  • In 2009 an Idaho Stop bill was introduced in Oregon, but a lack of support, because many legislators cited constituent opposition to giving cyclists what they viewed as special right, led a key legislator to refuse to schedule a work session on it and it died in committee.
  • A stop-as-yield bill died in committee in Arizona in 2009.[33]
  • In 2009 in Montana a stop-as-yield bill was opposed by the insurance industry and the Montana Highway Patrol and was voted down in committee.[34]
  • In 2010, a stop-as yield bill in Utah passed in the House[35] and the Senate transportation committee but failed to pass on the Senate floor by one vote in an 11-11-7 vote.
  • In 2011 a Utah stop-as yield bill again died in the Senate on a tie vote after passing the House[36] That same year a similar bill in Arizona again never made it out of committee.[37]
  • In 2011, an Oregon Idaho stop bill was never voted on in committee and failed upon adjournment,[38]
  • In 2011, an Arizona stop-as-yield bill was again proposed but never voted on.[39]
  • In 2012, the Arizona stop-as-yield bill finally made it out of one house committee,[40] only to fail in another.[41]
  • In August, 2015, San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos announced plans to introduce an ordinance that would set a “San Francisco Right-of-Way Policy” that would make citations for bicyclists who safely yield at stop signs the lowest law enforcement priority. Running a stop sign would still be illegal, but the police would be discouraged from enforcing it, making this a proxy for a stop-as-yield law.[42] The bill was passed in an initial vote by the Board of Supervisors on December 16, 2015.[43] However, on January 20, 2016, the Mayor vetoed the bill.[44]
  • In September 2015, Washington, DC Councilmember Mary Cheh introduced the "Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act of 2015," which included an Idaho Stop provision.[45] When the bill came out of committee in June 2016, the Idaho Stop provision had been removed.[46]
  • In 2015, the city of Montreal recommended that the province of Quebec revise its Highway Safety Code to allow cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs.[47] And in 2017 they repeated the recommendation.[48]
  • In November 2015 New York City Councilman Antonio Reynoso introduced a resolution, Res 0914-2015, asking the state Legislature and Gov. Cuomo for a statewide law that would allow bicyclists to treat stop signs and red lights as yield signs.[49] The resolution was never heard in committee.
  • In January 2016 Santa Fe, NM Councilmember Patti Bushee proposed an amendment to the city's uniform traffic ordinance, bill 2016-07, that would allow bicyclists to proceed through a stop sign with caution if the intersection is clear.[50] The bill was postponed in committee despite the local police department being "cautiously supportive."[51] It was not taken up again.
  • In January 2016 Oklahoma State Senator David Holt and State Representative Lewis Moore introduced HB 2999 which is an Idaho Stop bill.[52] On February 18th of that year, it passed the House's Public Safety Committee, but died in chamber.
  • In September 2016, an Edmonton City Council committee voted to ask provincial officials to consider allowing cyclists to roll through stop signs in their ongoing review of traffic regulations.[53]
  • In January 2017, Colorado state legislator Andy Kerr introduced a bill that would legalize the full Idaho Stop statewide.[54] The bill died in committee on a 3-2 party line vote.[55] He reintroduced the same bill in 2018.[56]
  • In February 2017, California Assemblymen Jay Obernolte, R-Hesperia, and Phil Ting, D-San Francisco introduced A.B. 1103 a "Stop as Yield" law.[57] The bill died when it failed to be passed by the House before January 31, 2018.
  • In February 2017, Arkansas Rep. Brandt Smith introduced H.B. 1520, an Idaho Stop law. It died in Committee on a 7-7 vote.[58]
  • In June 2017, the Delaware House and Senate both passed the "Bicycle Friendly Delaware Act” that would allow cyclists to treat some stop signs as yield signs. Governor John Carney signed the law on Oct 5, 2017.[59][60]


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  2. ^ Bialick, Aaron. "Bikes Are Not Cars: Why California Needs an "Idaho Stop" Law | Streetsblog San Francisco". Retrieved 2014-02-16. 
  3. ^ Bernardi, Rick (March 7, 2009). "Origins of Idaho's "Stop as Yield" Law". Bob Mionske. Retrieved 2014-02-15. 
  4. ^ Thomas, Ray (December 2008). "History of Idaho's stop sign law" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-02-15. 
  5. ^ Fajans, Joel (2001). "Why Bicyclists Hate Stop Signs". Environmental & Architectural Phenomenology Newsletter. 
  6. ^ "Cyclists Rights - READ". Portland Independent Media Center. Retrieved 3 March 2016. 
  7. ^ Maus, Jonathan. "Roll-and-go stop sign bill passed the House in 2003". Retrieved 3 March 2016. 
  8. ^ a b Stop Sign and Traffic Signal Changes for Cyclists
  9. ^ Masoner, Richard. "California to consider Idaho stop law?". Retrieved 3 March 2016. 
  10. ^ Arnoldy, Ben (August 25, 2008). "New bike commuters hit the classroom, then the road". Retrieved 3 March 2016. 
  11. ^ Meggs, Jason N. "Bicycle Safety and Choice: Compounded Public Cobenefits of the Idaho Law Relaxing Stop Requirements for Cycling". Retrieved 1 August 2010. 
  12. ^ Whyte, Brandon. "The Idaho Stop Law and the Severity of Bicycle Crashes: A Comparative Study" (PDF). Retrieved 17 December 2015. 
  13. ^ "Paris to let cyclists skip red lights". 8 July 2015. Retrieved 11 December 2015. 
  14. ^ Bicyclists’ Stopping Behaviors: An Observational Study of Bicyclists’ Patterns and Practices, Catherine Marie Caverly Silva, 2015
  15. ^ Greegor, Teesa. "Stop as Yield | Idaho Stop Considerations for Fort Collins". Retrieved 26 January 2017. 
  16. ^ Caldwell, Jenna; O'Neil, Riley; Schwieterman, Joseph P.; Yanocha, Dana. "POLICIES FOR PEDALING Managing the Tradeoff between Speed & Safety for Biking in Chicago" (PDF). CHADDICK INSTITUTE FOR METROPOLITAN DEVELOPMENT AT DEPAUL UNIVERSITY. Retrieved 13 December 2016. 
  17. ^ "Making Better Laws | Road Rights |". 2009-09-01. Retrieved 2014-02-16. 
  18. ^ Why Bicyclists Hate Stop Signs, Joel Fajansan and Melanie Curry, 2001
  19. ^ a b Takemoto-Weerts, David (2010-02-03). "CABO » Argument Against an Idaho Style "Stop as Yield" Law for Bicyclists". Retrieved 2014-02-16. "It.. violates one of the primary elements of traffic safety: predictability."
  20. ^ Bernardi, Rick. "ORIGINS OF IDAHO'S "STOP AS YIELD" LAW". Retrieved 28 May 2015.  as stated by Former rolling stop supporter Jack Gillette, then-President of the Boise Bicycle Commuters Association
  21. ^ Morse, Jack. "Mayor Vetoes 'Idaho Stop' Law As Promised". Archived from the original on 22 January 2016. Retrieved 8 April 2016. 
  22. ^ Samuel, Henry. "Paris cyclists given right to break traffic laws". Telegraph. Retrieved 2014-02-16. 
  23. ^ Schofield, Hugh (11 August 2015). "The city that lets cyclists jump red lights". Retrieved 10 December 2015. 
  24. ^ "Yield-Stop Bicycling Laws for Aspen and Denver? | Daniel R. Rosen, P.C". 2013-02-14. Retrieved 2014-02-16. 
  25. ^ "Ordinance No. 2012-09". Retrieved 2014-06-10. 
  26. ^ "Bike riders will be able to yield legally at stop signs around Aspen". Retrieved 2014-02-16. 
  27. ^ "Fort Collins Bicycle Advisory Committee puts the brakes on stop-as-yield". Archived from the original on 2014-02-16. Retrieved 2014-02-16. 
  28. ^ LoBasso, Randy (5 October 2017). "Is the 'Delaware Stop' right for Pennsylvania?". Retrieved 6 October 2017. 
  29. ^ Talia (30 April 2014). "16 States Pass "Dead Red" Laws, Allowing Cyclists To Run Red Lights". cdlife. Retrieved 29 September 2016. 
  30. ^ Rosenberg, Mike (June 18, 2008). "Proposal would change rules for bicyclists at stop signs". Retrieved 3 March 2016. 
  31. ^ "HF 4245 Status in the House for the 85th Legislature (2007 - 2008)". 2008-05-15. Retrieved 2014-02-16. 
  32. ^ "HF 1401 Status in the House for the 86th Legislature (2009 - 2010)". 2009-03-05. Retrieved 2016-03-18. 
  33. ^ "Idaho-style stop law fizzles out in Arizona: A bad sign for Oregon?". 2009-03-05. Retrieved 2014-02-16. 
  34. ^ "Montana House of Representatives : Committee on Transportation" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-02-16. 
  35. ^ "Utah Local News - Salt Lake City News, Sports, Archive - The Salt Lake Tribune". 2010-02-25. Retrieved 2014-02-16. 
  36. ^ "Utah State Senate : Cycling Laws". Retrieved 2014-02-16. 
  37. ^ "Votes: AZ HB2633 | 2010 | Forty-ninth Legislature 2nd Regular". LegiScan. 2010-02-03. Retrieved 2014-02-16. 
  38. ^ "Votes: OR SB604 | 2011 | Regular Session". LegiScan. 2011-06-30. Retrieved 2014-02-16. 
  39. ^ "Votes: AZ HB2130 | 2011 | Fiftieth Legislature 1st Regular". LegiScan. 2011-01-19. Retrieved 2014-02-16. 
  40. ^ "Bicycle yield bill and texting ban advance in legislature | Tucson VeloTucson Velo". 2012-01-27. Retrieved 2014-02-16. 
  41. ^ "AZ HB2211 | 2012 | Fiftieth Legislature 2nd Regular". LegiScan. Retrieved 2014-02-16. 
  42. ^ Bialick, Aaron. "Avalos Proposes Ordinance Urging SFPD to Let Cyclists Yield at Stop Signs". streetsblog. Retrieved 17 September 2015. 
  43. ^ Sabatini, Joshua (16 December 2015). "Supes approve rolling bicycle stop law but mayor to veto". Retrieved 17 December 2015. 
  44. ^ Morse, Jack. "Mayor Vetoes 'Idaho Stop' Law As Promised". sfist. Archived from the original on 22 January 2016. Retrieved 21 January 2016. 
  45. ^ Cranor, David. "What's in the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act of 2015". The Washcycle. Retrieved 17 September 2015. 
  46. ^ Barnes, Daniel (8 June 2016). "Council Drops 'Stop as Yield' Provision From Bike Bill". Washington City Paper. Retrieved 8 June 2016. 
  47. ^ Magder, Jason (22 September 2015). "f Montreal has its way, cyclists won't have to stop at stop signs, use the right side of the road — or wear helmets". Retrieved 1 March 2017. 
  48. ^ "Montreal willing to give cyclists a break on stop signs — but not red lights". 28 February 2017. Retrieved 1 March 2017. 
  49. ^ Fried, Ben (24 November 2015). "Antonio Reynoso: Let's Talk About Bike Laws That Make Sense for NYC Streets". Retrieved 11 December 2015. 
  50. ^ Chacon, Daniel J. (11 January 2016). "Santa Fe may allow bicyclists to roll through stop signs". Retrieved 11 January 2016. 
  51. ^ Chacon, Daniel (11 January 2016). "Would the 'Idaho stop' bring safety to Santa Fe bicyclists?". Retrieved 24 February 2017. 
  52. ^ "Oklahoma House Bill 2999". legiscan. Retrieved 26 February 2016. 
  53. ^ Stolte, Elise (28 September 2016). "Edmonton council committee votes to fast track cycle tracks, let cyclists roll through stop signs". Retrieved 29 September 2016. 
  54. ^ Kenney, Andrew (25 January 2017). "Should cyclists get special rules at stops? A Colorado lawmaker wants to legalize the "Idaho stop."". Denverite. Retrieved 25 January 2017. 
  55. ^ St. George, Joe (9 February 2017). "Colorado Republicans kill bill allowing cyclists to go through stop signs". Retrieved 8 February 2017. 
  56. ^ Lopez, Meghan (13 February 2018). "Colorado senate bill would allow cyclists to go through red lights and stop signs". Retrieved 15 February 2018. 
  57. ^ Stewart, Joshua (22 February 2017). "New bill would let bicyclists roll through stop signs". Retrieved 24 February 2017. 
  58. ^ Omen, Noel (1 March 2017). "Proposal to let Arkansas cyclists glide, not stop, at intersections falters". Retrieved 1 March 2017. 
  59. ^ "House Bill 185". Retrieved 3 August 2017. 
  60. ^ Min, Shirley (5 October 2017). "Rules change to make Delaware roads safer for bicyclists [video]". Retrieved 5 October 2017. 

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